James Yap saved the day for a Derby Ace team that played without an import in the final six minutes, sinking the game-winning basket as the Llamados edged defending champion San Miguel, 83-82, in a thrilling PBA Fiesta Cup match up Sunday night.
The hotshot guard out of University of the East scored the final five points of the Llamados, none more important than the 20-foot jumper he nailed against the outstretched arm of Jay Washington to put his team on top of a game played out with a playoff atmosphere at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen had 6.7 seconds to go for a game-turning shot, but Derby Ace’s defense clamped down on Alex Cabagnot, forcing the San Miguel pointguard to give up the ball to Dondon Hontiveros, whose off-balance shot at the right corner came short at the final buzzer.
“Big Game James hit the big shot," hollered an ecstatic Derby Ace coach Ryan Gregorio in the post-game interview.
“It’s always nice to win against a very, very strong team like San Miguel. And we did it without our import with still a lot of time left."
Yap finished with 23 points for the Llamados, who played all-Filipino with 5:34 left after import Cliff Brown fouled out.
Brown had 11 points and 13 rebounds by the time he left the game and the Llamados trailing, 71-74.
Despite playing with a handicap, the Llamados fought their way back and briefly held the lead, 78-76, on two free throws by Rico Maierhofer.
The score was tied at 78 entering the final two minutes.
Four lead changes took place after that, with the Beermen taking the upperhand for the last time, 82-81, on a drive to the basket by Gabe Freeman with 21 seconds remaining.
San Miguel now yielded the top spot to Talk `N Text (11-2) with its 11-3 record, as it now lost two of its last three matches after a nine-game winning run earlier.
KG Canaleta added 14 points and three others also finished in double figures for the Llamados, who grabbed solo third place with 9-5 card.
Derby Ace also avenged its 80-72 loss to the Beermen in the first round of the eliminations, a game where it led by as many as 18 points only to lose steam in the end.
Freeman showed the way for San Miguel with 27 points, but had to be fielded in back and forth inside the final two minutes after hurting his right thumb. - RCJ, GMANews.TV